Is it really necessary to learn to read an ekg? anyone really use it? - page 3

by northmississippi

6,478 Views | 44 Comments

Do any of you actually know how to read and use the telemetry monitor when it comes to watching the heart beat pattern (p wave, etc). Would it be worth my time to spend the summer learning to really read one? Thanks.... Read More


  1. 2
    I fail to understand why more emphasis is not put on EKG in nursing schools. It seems that is mostly taught on the job or through CE classes. I've seen community health RNs who didn't even know how to hook up their 12 lead and hospital nurses who were notorious for hitting print and then taking the strip to another nurse to read.
  2. 1
    If you're in the er, you absolutely need to be able read the monitor and interpret the rhythm. No monitor techs for us. Everybody (including our techs) watches the monitors.
    FuturePsychNP likes this.
  3. 1
    Quote from SummitRN
    I fail to understand why more emphasis is not put on EKG in nursing schools. It seems that is mostly taught on the job or through CE classes. I've seen community health RNs who didn't even know how to hook up their 12 lead and hospital nurses who were notorious for hitting print and then taking the strip to another nurse to read.
    EKG competency takes time to master. And nsg school class time is at a premium - too limited to spend the extended time needed for just EKGs.
    proud nurse likes this.
  4. 0
    Yup. If nothing else at least learn the emergency ACLS ones.
  5. 0
    Yup, your patient is not going to wait for you to whip out your phone and google Vfib as he is about to tank and needs some pads attached.
  6. 0
    Everyone is saying yes however on my former floor, I worked general medical and we did not read strips. The nurses that wanted to do a tele class had to BEG to do that. I have taken EKG class for another position and was decent with it but for me it was a use it or lose it thing. I would need another course.

    I think it is a great skill to have but not every position utilizes it,
  7. 0
    Quote from Do-over
    We are required to analyze the telemetry for our patients.

    Can I expertly interpret a 12-lead? Not even close, but we have to know enough to know when to consult the doc.
    Same here. Our hospital is requiring all nurses to pass an annual EKG test because we have to read the strips. We have tele monitors at every nurses desk, which is nice because you can see all of your patients strips without calling the tele tech. We have tele techs, but we want the nurses not to rely on them to tell them what the strip is.
  8. 0
    All inpatient units at my hospital are flex/mixed tele & non-tele ... so yes, every nurse needs to be able to interpret rhythms and act on them accordingly.
  9. 0
    Yes. In our hospital we have techs that are trained to watch telemetry because clearly i can't be watching it 24/7. We have monitors at the nurses station and in the rooms we can hook them up to. Even when the techs call you that your patient is in a certain rythm, it is your responsibility to take a look at those strips and intervene. I'm not the greatest at them, i'll be honest. with difficult ones i will get help from others...but i take it as a learning experience. Sometimes we as nurses will catch things before technicians.

    Or, your patient is c/o SOB and palpitations. Doc orders an EKG. The EKG gets done, and the technician hands you the EKG. The on call doctor (who is busy or not in the building) calls and says "What is the rhythm?".you need to be able to read that. Surley no nurse is going to be a professional. We had a guy who NOBODY knew what the heck his rhythm was. I printed off the strips and got the PA to look at them. We were all going back and fourth from Atrial tach to Aflutter to sinus tach, to some random rythm i never even heard of. Cardiologist looked at it and it took him a while too. It was just a weird rythm we don't see much with some Atrial Tach. But sitll....you don't have to be the BEST at it but it helps to have some understanding.
  10. 0
    Quote from One1
    Yup, your patient is not going to wait for you to whip out your phone and google Vfib as he is about to tank and needs some pads attached.
    AMEN!

    I laughed with this response.

    Just FYI - I was EKG cert in a prior job before I was working at a psych hosp. Had to go to mandatory morning management meetings where I happened to be sitting next to the Medical Director. He was reviewing a pile of EKGs. I glanced over to the last EKG he had interpreted when I noted such an extreme 1st degree heart block that I just blurted out something about the prolonged PR. He revised his interpretation and set it aside (for further followup, I guess).

    So to OP - yes, you do use that skill even when you least expect to. There have been times when I've been doing a HR and the AP/RP don't match or I can detect a rhythmic discrepancy and I wonder if I'm not catching PVCs. In LTC, not many places have a LIFPAK (do they still make them?) so the ability to catch something as it occurs is rare.
    Last edit by amoLucia on May 4, '13


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